The Pan-African Experiences of Autism Conference took place at The British Council in Freetown on 4 & 5 December 2017 and was extremely well attended, with participation from parents, carers, teachers, NGOs, health workers and Ministry officials. The event marked the International Day of Persons With Disabilities and we are very grateful for the support of The British Council for the venue and for sponsoring guest speakers from Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
Feedback has been very positive and we are now working on the report, including the ‘Next Steps’ calls for action and priorities for implementation. We will make this available as soon as possible so that everyone involved can build on the outcomes of the event. A WhatsApp group has already been created ‘Autism Tok Salone’ which will keep the discussions and planning going.
Dr Bakare from Nigeria reviews current autism research and practice in Africa.
Dr Virginia George, a parent/carer, talks about her experiences of bringing up her 19 year old daughter.
Rugiatu Koroma, Human Rights Advocate and former Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, calls for support for community awareness-raising so that parents may be supported to make positive decisions on behalf of their children with disabilities.
Umu Bentil, above, a parent/carer shares her experiences of prioritising her autistic daughter’s needs against the wishes of her family – and the estrangement from her mother and husband that resulted. ‘Hold your child close and don’t let anyone tell you that your child should not be cared for’.
Dr Tsitsi Chataika of the University of Zimbabwe presents on inclusivity and the right to education.
Andy Nowak of Queensmill School, London and volunteer with Disability Africa, shares effective ways of supporting autistic children and young people.